UpNorthTrips Presents The 10s | Samples and The Soulstrumentals
Words and Mix by @UNITEDCRATES
In dropping arguably two of the best back-to-back albums in rap music history, Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth must undeniably be considered one of hip-hop's finest duos. The combination of Pete Rock's signature soulful production served-up from behind the boards and C.L.'s conscious lyrics delivered from the booth, has enabled the tag-team from Mount Vernon to place itself as top-tier contributors to rap's legacy. With today marking the 20th Anniversary of Pete and C.L.'s monumental debut album , Mecca and The Soul Brother , we figured it was only right to dedicate the latest edition of The Tens in their honor.
In searching for the best way to pay our respects to MSB , it didn’t feel right simply whipping up a basic "Best Of" mix. Too generic. So, in true UNT fashion we flipped the script and took a more creative approach. It’s common knowledge that Pete Rock “made every single beat on that album” using the E-mu SP-1200, which also celebrates an anniversary this year. (Released in 1987, the SP-1200 turns 25 this August.) Thus our decision to concentrate on MSB ’s beat construction, which undoubtedly single-handedly changed the standards of hip-hop production. From the chopped samples of those famous horns, the heavy filtered bass lines, the signature hi-hats, there’s no question that Mecca and The Soul Brother was a game-changer. Now let’s return to the Mecca …
<< NOTE: The purpose of this article is not to expose or exploit any producer's samples. We simply wished to spread some knowledge about the music we love - material created by craftspeople we have the utmost respect for. >>
1. "Return of the Mecca"
Breakdown: Not only is this the first head-nodder off the LP, but Pete flipped this popular drum break unlike anyone else at the time, overlaying the break over another set of drums when most were simply using it on its own. Everyone from East to West, N.W.A to A Tribe Called Quest, touched this break. If you listen closely Pete also flipped this break for several other tracks on the album.
Sample Source: Mountain - "Long Red (Live Version)"
2. "Can't Front On Me"
Breakdown: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Who flipped samples from Hair first in hip-hop? Not sure, but I can tell you this, though. The Chocolate Boy Wonder incorporated this joint into his sound over a year before Da Beatminerz used it for Enta Tha Stage . Being an understudy of Marley Marl, Pete obviously always enjoyed cutting records from the Juice Crew, using a Biz Markie vocal scratch throughout the track. Another sample that's slipped in the mix is the "Impeach The President" beat, a/k/a the "Queensbridge" break to those of us Upstate. Whatever way you slice the sample this track hits hard as a mutha.
Sample Source: Alyn Ainsworth - "Where Do I Go?"
3. "The Basement"
Breakdown: Before everyone and their mother's mother knew about Sister Nancy's "Bam Bam," there were the few DJ's (including myself) that would run this in their set - slid in between songs like Snow's "Lonely Monday Morning" and Mad Cobra's "Flex." This was one of those tracks with bass so heavy it would knock your rear view mirror loose. The sample also appeared on Main Source's "Just Hangin' Out," produced by the Large Professor. A little more recently it was reprised and gained wider popularity via Guerilla Black and Beenie Man's "Compton." Whether left alone, or sampled, the track's longevity is evident by the fact that it still gets a party jumpin'.
Sample Source: Sister Nancy - "Bam Bam"
Breakdown: The catchy-ass horn and bassline are an instant draw for any fan of hip-hop circa '92. This funky production is perfectly paired with the interlocking vocals of C.L., Grand Puba, and Pete Rock. One of the most frequent sampled songs in hip-hop, James Brown's "Funky President," sets the tone, in case you were wondering.
Sample Source: The Coasters - "Down Home Girl"
5. "Wig Out"
Breakdown: The opening bars of this record feature backup vocals which foreshadow the chorus. Once the bass booms, then the cleanest, hardest hitting drum tracks you will ever hear drops. More on the uptempo tip, PR magnificently illustrates that in order to be a great producer, less is more, and that there are limits to over-layering samples. Most will be fooled to find out that only three songs were chopped up for this track even though it sounds like so much more, it's that in-your-face a breakbeat.
Sample Source: Johnny Lytle - "Jungle Child"